Shakespeare and the natural world: Film Students respond to climate change
Student film-makers from Anglia Ruskin University explore Shakespeare’s plays in thought-provoking and ambitious short films ahead of our Shakespeare and Climate Emergency symposium
Our plan for a collaborative film project with Anglia Ruskin University first came about eighteen months ago – Research Fellow & Lecturer for the Globe, Dr Will Tosh and Hans Petch, Senior Lecturer in Film & Television Production at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) discussed the opportunity for short-form experimental films to be shared alongside an upcoming spring symposium on Shakespeare and climate change, due to take place in May 2020. But then the pandemic forced everything to grind to a halt.
Fast-forward to April 2021, with our Globe 4 Globe: Shakespeare and Climate Emergency symposium taking place this weekend, and we have a series of five thought-provoking and ambitious short films from students from a leading film school – conceived, created and edited in the midst of a pandemic.
Over the past few months, ARU students from a range of disciplines attended workshops here at the Globe: they saw our unique space, the Globe Theatre, learnt how Shakespearean audiences watched the plays in Elizabethan London, and how Shakespeare and his contemporaries experienced and understood climate change.
Our Globe Practitioners explored select Shakespeare texts with students, and with Shakespeare as creative inspiration, five films have been born, featuring well-known speeches from Hamlet, King Lear, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet.
The impact of the pandemic on theatre and education will perhaps only really be known in the years ahead. It’s a testimony to the resilience of the student film-makers at ARU that they lost none of their determination to make the films, even during the past difficult year when students have been unable to access the resources of their university campus. Ideas had to be re-thought and re-shaped (the Queen Mab speech from Romeo and Juliet initially inspired a compelling short set in a restaurant kitchen; now the film-maker re-conceived the work in a forest). What the students have achieved in the most trying of circumstances is here for you to see. We hope you’ll enjoy their work.
Watch the short films
The Pulse of Change
Director: Velina Garabedyan
Inspired by: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Director: Michelle Siu
Inspired by: Romeo and Juliet
“Titania’s emotional declaration in A Midsummer Night’s Dream resonated with my own feelings about the global ecological situation – namely, that we are at fault and our endless fighting and disputes on the matter only do more harm.
This short animation was a collaborative work between one animator, two illustrators, a sound technician, and an actress, and it was an exciting and thought-provoking project to work on. There was a challenge to speak to a wider audience about the serious ecological issue we are facing without making it sound like an accusation, yet still conveying the common responsibility.”
— Velina Garabedyan, Director
The Pulse of Change
“Casca in Julius Caesar demonstrates the same tone of surprise in his speech about the events he has witnessed as those today. It is the same mentality that is presented by the majority of society. We contribute to the climatic changes, yet we are astounded when we see the effects of those actions.
It shows how climate issues were disregarded no matter the time. It is a problem that was here always but now, more than ever, we have a chance to change the world. All we need to do is take action. Learning from the past is a good start.”
— Weronika Tomaszewska, Director
Mother Nature’s Vengeance
Mother Nature's Vengeance
Director: Weronika Tomaszewska
Inspired by: Julius Caesar
Director: Laura Elmer
Inspired by: Macbeth and King James VI’s Daemonologie
Director: Mihai Alexandru Filipache
Inspired by: Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, King Lear
“I was drawn to the Witches in Macbeth and their interactions with the titular Macbeth and was further inspired by historical portrayals of women as witches, which led me to include lines from the Daemonologie written by King James VI in 1597.
Society has often sought to restrain women and keep them from achieving their potential. I looked at the treatment of women throughout history and how strong women were often demonised and sometimes executed as witches. I represented this through using ropes that attack our female character – they are relentlessly trying to hold her back.”
— Laura Elmer, Director
“I wanted a speech that is representative of loss of hope, as my script is based around the concept of a post-apocalyptic world, where, through man’s negligence, nature has gradually died out. I’ve included lines of dialogue from four of Shakespeare’s characters, to create a fight within my character’s mind. All characters are fallen kings or rulers, that represent the fall of humanity, now that the natural kingdom that we mistreated has been destroyed.
A lot of Shakespeare’s plays are, in essence, cautionary tales. And that is exactly what the story of our planet will be if we don’t take control of climate issues soon.”
— Mihai Alexandru Filipache, Director
This 23–24 April 2021, in our Globe 4 Globe: Shakespeare and the Climate Emergency online symposium, we’ll explore ecological collapse and renewal in Shakespeare’s texts; map out ways in which theatres can achieve sustainable and ethical futures; and reflect on the capacity of live events to change audience behaviour. Join us, leading ecocritical scholars, theatre companies, sustainability consultants and the next generation of early career scholars as we take our first steps as part of the climate-conscious fight-back.
Register for your free place.